Jim Cartwright’s Two is a masterpiece of theatrical writing. It delves deeply into the study of the human condition, dealing with what could easily be seen as the real lives of real people at any time. It is set in a northern pub, and the Plaza Theatre has the perfect place to perform it: their ‘Green Room’ studio is a gift of a place to perform and to watch a piece like this, calling as it does for intimacy between performer and audience member.
As the title suggests, it is a play for two performers, one of each sex. In many ways, it is an actors’ play, with several characters to be performed by the two players. Such a play can tempt the performer to be indulgent but, if done right, then indulgent it most certainly is not: the audience are drawn in, with what is known as the ‘fourth wall’ being not just broken but wilfully ignored.
In this production – staged in what is, to all intents, a bar (perfect) – the show is beautifully given life and pace and energy by skilful direction in the shape of Lyn Butcher. She really gets the most out of the writing. The sound and lighting are played very well and give a good, pubby atmosphere. Plus, for my money, if you include snippets from tracks by Led Zeppelin and The Police, well, as they say, ‘You had me at “Hello”’.
As I said, it is an actors’ piece and, to an actor, this chance to really flex your performing muscles is a gift not to be squandered. These two ‘actors’ prezzies’ were given to Beverley Siddle (Landlady, Old Woman, Maudie, Mrs Iger, Lesley, Alice and ‘Woman’) and Neil Gwynne (Landlord, Moth, Old Man, Mr Iger, Roy, Fred and ‘Boy’). These two exceptional performers unwrapped their respective presents, studied them, learned how to use every single feature of them, took them apart, put them back together and then gave us a show which genuinely made us laugh, blush and cry. Not a beat missed, not a flinch when there could have been one. The temptation for indulgence that I alluded to earlier is, thankfully, very much ignored. It is mesmerising and melt-in-the-mouth good acting.
This is a very moving piece of theatre and I strongly encourage you to check it out – take a pocket pack of tissues, though.
Future performances: 29 November to 3 December at 7.30.